Recently, not only did I get to go skiing in Canada, but I also got to go into the BA First Class lounge at Heathrow Terminal 5. I also got to go to the lounge at Calgary airport (which is shared between about four different airlines).
The BA lounge at T5 is huge. And horrible. The service is terrible, the coffee's mediocre, and the general ambiance unappealing. All this from a purpose-built, modern terminal - entirely controlled by BA. It's not as if they can blame it on any kind of legacy, or their airport partner. It's actually not dissimilar to this video of JFK, except it's a bit bigger with a few more 'areas'. The video doesn't show the toilets, suffice to say that T5's First Class passengers still feel the need to make a mess, and BA doesn't feel like cleaning up after them.
We wandered around to the bit where you can get à la carte food options. We sit down, next to a table that hasn't been cleaned. We wait. We then go and fish some menus off another table. We wait some more. We then have to go and ask someone to take our order. When it arrived, the food was reasonable, but this is the sort of experience you might have in a dodgy side-street cafe, and BA are passing it off as 'first class'. Apparently the lounge cost $120 million (£60 million). What was that? £59,999,999 for the building and £1 for staff training? I'm just glad we flew economy ;-)
By comparison, Calgary's international lounge is pretty small. It's got a cute little kids area, with little chairs and a TV. The service is almost too good - if you take something off the serve-yourself counter, it's almost instantly replaced. If you get up from your table, it's instantly cleared and wiped. As I say, it's almost too much service. The selection of stuff you can have is reasonable, but not exceptional. If only BA could hire the people that work in Calgary to work in the T5 lounge, eh?
Never mind that our actual flight departed from (and arrived) near terminal 3 (so we needed to get a bus to it), or that T5 is full of accessibility mistakes, or that half of the flights leaving Heathrow are half empty - I'll be writing what I think of T5 as a whole on another day... Remember, it's like BA keep telling us... T5 is working!